They say the trail of Mt. Guiting-Guiting is not easy. They failed to mention traveling there isn’t exactly smooth-sailing either.
From Manila, we took a 1pm bus to Batangas pier to board a Montenegro Lines ferry going to Romblon. When we got to the pier, we were told that tickets were sold out and the boat was already full at capacity. We live in a country, however, where public transport defies the laws of physics and overloading is the norm. We were still able to get tickets but we won’t have a bed or a seat during the 10-hour boat ride. If the ferry sinks, it’ll partly be our fault as well.
We parked ourselves on the open area in the starboard side of the ship and were rewarded with a stunning sunset. We may spend the night sleeping on the floor (and I did) but at least we’ve got a beautiful dusk to tide us over.
I dosed off while leaning on my backpack and later crashed into a groundsheet spread out on the floor. I slept soundly in the open air with the night sky above me and the ocean right below. And then the night sky decided it was time for a shower. I was shaken awake as raindrops pelted my face. We grabbed our stuff, headed downstairs and ended up in a hallway filled with sleeping people. I’m guessing they were also in the same situation as us.
We then found a discarded cabin with wooden bunk beds that have been stripped down until only the bedposts and plywood were left. The room was humid, airless and smelled like filthy, old socks. Most of the bunks were occupied with snoring men who may also be drunk, judging from the empty bottle of Emperador brandy on the floor. This was no time to be choosy, especially since we didn’t have much of a choice anyway. I clambered into an empty upper bunk and tried to sleep. Within minutes, I didn’t even notice the smell anymore, probably because I may have started to stink like filthy, old socks myself.
After three hours of tossing, turning and gasping for air in an unventilated, rundown cabin, we finally got our reprieve as the boat docked at Romblon port at around 3am. Most of the passengers scrambled to get off the ship. We were in no hurry though since the ferry going to the town of Magdiwang in Sibuyan Island won’t be arriving until 7am. We still had a few hours to kill. An empty ship meant good news: free beds for us! We snuck into the air-conditioned accommodation and crawled into a couple of cushioned bunk beds. No more hard plywood this time!
We got off the ship at past 5am and looked for a place to eat. We circled an entire neighborhood before finding a good karinderia which turned out to be only a few steps from the pier.
We boarded another Montenegro Lines ferry, a smaller one this time, going to Magdiwang. It was a two-hour ride, which meant we still had time to catch some snooze. We went to the upper deck and found two empty monobloc benches; perfect for stretching out and taking a nap. The entire trip was starting to feel like a series of hunts for covert sleeping corners. It was exhausting and hilarious at the same time.
Our nap time was again cut short when it started to drizzle. We hurried back to the roofed lower deck just in time to see Sibuyan Island in the distance and the formidable peaks of Mt. Guiting-Guiting outlined sharply against the grey skies. The mountain is a daunting sight. I felt a mixture of awe, excitement and utter terror as I gazed open-mouthed into it.
As I walked off the boat with my 40-liter backpack weighing heavily on my shoulders, it started to sink in that I’m really doing this. I’m really going to climb a mountain that has been on the wish list of every seasoned mountaineer. There was no turning back. I placed myself at the mercy of God and G2, and hoped against hope that my worn-out hiking shoes wouldn’t fail me on the trail. But that’s a tale for another day.
Manila-Batangas bus – P175
Batangas-Romblon ferry – P954
Romblon-Magdiwang ferry – P220
- Mantalingajan Traverse: Day Two (misadventuresoftintin.com)